Melbourne print co exploits refugee
The Guardian reports that Chinese refugee Fu Cong has been exploited by an unnamed Melbourne print company, which was trading while insolvent and bounced his salary cheques before going under, leaving him with nothing.
According to The Guardian, the business Cong was working for went bankrupt overnight, leaving him owed $5000 in unpaid wages and redundancy payments, but with no means of recompense.
This is because the governments Fair Entitlement Guarantee Scheme (Fegs), which covers workers’ entitlements in the event of liquidation of a business, does not apply to anyone apart from citizens and permanent residents. This leaves the 900,000 temporary migrants like Cong at risk, and vulnerable to exploitation.
The government has accepted recommendations by the Migrant Workers taskforce – headed by former ACCC chairman Alan Fels – to include temporary workers like Cong in the Fegs scheme, but has so far not acted to implement the changes. Fels says temporary workers pay taxes like everyone else, so should receive the same protections.
The Guardian says Cong came to Australia to escape persecution through his membership of the banned Falun Gong group. The former teacher eventually found work in the suburban print business.
According to The Guardian’s report, Matt Kunkel, director of the Migrant Workers Centre, says some employers use liquidation as a deliberate tactic to avoid paying wages and entitlements to temporary workers, or the threat of liquidation and no money to force temporary workers to accept lower settlements. Print, of course, is sadly no stranger to phoenixing in its many guises.